KUNM

Carrie Kahn

Cuba Fights Off Zika

Sep 17, 2016

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Costa Rica is best known for its vacation beaches and lush rain forests. But recently it has become a thoroughfare for tens of thousands of migrants from South America and elsewhere who are hoping to reach the U.S.

Many are from the Caribbean, but a significant number trekking through the country are Africans and Southeast Asians, and collectively, they are straining Costa Rica's welcoming reputation.

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Remember the toucan in Costa Rica who had its upper beak hacked off by a perpetrator who was never found?

Well, here's an update to a story we first told you about last year. And, spoiler alert — it has a happy ending.

Local residents brought the bird to a nearby animal rescue center. And thanks to its dedicated workers, amazing doctors and engineers, the toucan now has a prosthetic beak.

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Holocaust survivor, Nobel laureate and author Elie Wiesel has died at the age of 87. Wiesel survived the World War II Nazi death camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. After liberation, he went to France, then Israel and the United States, where he advocated on behalf of victims of hate and persecution around the world.

Wiesel's son, Elisha, confirmed his death in a phone call with NPR.

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Costa Rican officials say more than 800 people claiming to be from Africa have come to their country in just the last two months. Most are believed to be from the two neighboring Congo states in central Africa. But in a visit this week, NPR also found Eritreans, Angolans and Nigerians.

Authorities also suspect that some are from Haiti.

Central America has long been the route north for people fleeing violence or poverty in Latin America. Now it's also a route from Africa.

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Dozens of people crowded into the main hall of the Panama Canal Authority's headquarters last month to see which ship would win the coveted maiden voyage through the expanded canal slated for June 26.

All eyes were on 9-year old Margarita Rivas Silvera as she stuck her hand in a metal cage and pulled out the winning name.

Panama City is bustling with construction. At least half-a-dozen cranes dot its picturesque, oceanfront skyline, teeming with glass towers.

At one site, real estate broker Kent Davis steps into a construction elevator in a nearly completed 30-floor apartment building. Seventy percent of the apartments have already been sold.

Cuba's leadership won't change anytime soon, nor will its political or economic plans for the future. That's the take-away from the four-day congress of the Cuban Communist Party that wrapped up late Tuesday. And apparently to emphasize that the old guard remains firmly in control, revolutionary leader Fidel Castro made a rare public appearance.

José Ramón Fernández will probably never attend another Communist Party Congress. At 92, he's the oldest delegate to take part in the four-day meeting of Cuba's top communist leaders that convenes on Saturday.

Springtime is usually beautiful in Mexico City. As the weather warms, the purple jacaranda trees that line boulevards and dot neighborhoods are in full bloom. Everything is prettier, says Fernando Padilla, a driver taking a break in a park.

"It's my favorite time of the year," he says.

But this spring, his eyes are watering, his throat hurts and one day a week he's not allowed to use his car on the road, which means he's poorer too.

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It has been a turbulent week for Mexico's diplomats in the U.S. The reason for the shakeup can be summed up in two words: Donald Trump.

This week, the Republican presidential front-runner released details of one of his oft-repeated campaign promises — to make Mexico pay for construction of a border wall.

The plan, which involves blocking billions of dollars that Mexicans working in the U.S. send back home, seemed to shake up Mexico's top officials and cause a break in their months of relative silence about Trump's anti-Mexican comments.

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A historic trial is taking place in Guatemala.

For the first time, according to rights activists, the country is prosecuting military officials for sexual violence committed during the Central American country's three-decade long civil war, which ended in the 1990s.

In the trial going on this week, 15 women have come forward to accuse two former military officials of systematic sexual abuse in the 1980s.

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In one of the largest waves of Cuban migration in decades, more than 70,000 have fled the island this year, rushing to the U.S. out of fear that its preferential policy toward those escaping the Castro regime might change.

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Some 2,000 Cubans hoping to reach the United States are stranded in Central America. They've been traveling by land from South America. When the migrants tried to enter Nicaragua on foot, they were met with rubber bullets. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

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